Jon Jang: Chinese American Jazz Pianist at OSU Thursday for a Free Concert

Jon Jang, a San Francisco-based pianist, will appear at OSU February 21 and 22 for a series of events including “An evening of Jazz and Conversation,” 8-10pm, 2/21 in Hughes Hall Auditorium (1899 College Rd.), and a lunch-hour talk titled “One Day American, One Day Alien: The Legacy of Artists of Color Who Changed the National Anthem,” (with reception to follow), 11:30-1:30, 2/22 at the Hale Black Cultural Center (153 W. 12th Ave.). More information is available from Asian American Studies at All are invited, but RSVP at (and for more information, contact) Asian American Studies at

Jon Jang

For over two decades, Jon Jang has developed his own musical language based on a concept he calls paper son, paper songs.

Because of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the Chinese created the “paper son” slot system where Chinese could claim US citizenship to stay in this country by purchasing false birth certificate papers from a Chinese father who had US citizenship. The surname of Jon’s grandfather was Woo and he became a “paper son” by purchasing the legal citizenship documents from a father named Jang.

Inspired by this Chinese clever method, paper songs embraces Jon Jang’s concept of Americanizing Chinese folk music. The melodies look Chinese on paper (music notation) but sound “American.”

Jon Jang gives a musical voice to a history that has been silent. A majority of his works represents a chronology of Chinese American history in San Francisco. Commissioned by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Oakland East Bay Symphony, Jang composed The Chinese American Symphony, a work that pays tribute to the Chinese who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States. The work premiered in 2007 in Sacramento, California and in 2008 in Oakland.

Other works include Unbound Chinatown (2007), Paper Son, Paper Songs (2006) Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2 for the Kronos Quartet and Cantonese Opera singer (1995) inspired by the poetry of Chinese immigrants who were detained at Angel Island Immigration Station in San Francisco during 1910-40, the score for the dramatic adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Women Warrior (1994) and When Sorrow Turns to Joy – A Musical Tribute to Paul Robeson (2002) inspired by Robeson’s collaboration with a Chinese choir in 1941.

Jang has recorded with Max Roach, James Newton and David Murray. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in China, South Africa (1994), Europe, Canada and the United States. In 2001, Jon toured with Max Roach as part of a trio in Zurich, Berlin, Milan and the Royal Festival Hall in London.

Jon Jang received a mid-career visionary artist award from the Ford Foundation in 2006. He joined Bernice Johnson Reagon as two of four Visiting Fellows at Stanford University in 2007 as part of the Stanford Institute for Diversity in the Arts. Jang has received commissions and grants from Creative Work Fund (1999, 2006), San Francisco Arts Commission (1995, 1998, 2002, 2006), Meet The Composer New Residences (2000-2003), Chanticleer (1999), The Library of Congress (1999), Rockefeller MAP Fund (1997, 2002), Creative Capital (2000-2003), Meet The Composer (1995), Kronos Quartet (1995) and NEA Jazz Composition Fellowship award (1995).

Details of the Show and Talk

Hosted by the Ohio State University Asian American Studies (a unit within DISCO), Asian American Association, Departments of African American & African Studies, Comparative Studies, East Asian Languages & Literatures, and History, Department of History Race, Ethnicity & Nation Constellation, Division of Arts & Humanities Diversity Enhancement Program, Diversity and Identity Studies Collective at OSU (DISCO), East Asian Studies Center, Graduate Pan Asian Caucus, Institute for Chinese Studies, Humanities Institute, Jazz Studies, Multicultural Center, and Office of Diversity and Inclusion

Silent Histories, Musical Voices
Jon Jang, Chinese American jazz musician February 21 & 22, 2013
An Evening of Jazz and Conversation 8:00 pm, Thursday, February 21 Hughes Hall Auditorium 1899 College Rd

“One Day American, One Day Alien: The Legacy of Artists of Color Who Changed the National Anthem.” Lecture & Lunch Reception 11:30-1:00, Friday, February 22 Hale Black Cultural Center 153 W 12th Ave

We are dedicated to making these events accessible to all who wish to attend. Please contact Asian American Studies for help with requesting any services, accommodations or technology you may need in order to ensure that you can take full advantage of these events.

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